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Mercedes boss rejects talk of rule changes

Mercedes Formula One Executive Director (Business) Toto Wolff smiles during a news conference after the second practice session of the Austr
Mercedes Formula One Executive Director (Business) Toto Wolff smiles during a news conference after the second practice session of the Austr

By Alan Baldwin

MANAMA (Reuters) - Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff has dismissed as 'absurd' suggestions that Formula One could rewrite its rules just because some teams have failed to make the most of new technology.

Ferrari and champions Red Bull have been particularly vocal critics of the new V6 turbo era that has seen the pecking order overturned with Mercedes-powered teams enjoying a performance advantage.

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, who has bemoaned the lack of engine noise and fuel-saving rules he says turn F1 racers into taxi drivers, is due to attend Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix.

Ahead of his arrival, the Sakhir paddock was full of speculation about proposals for change and talk of shorter races or a greater fuel allocation than the current 100kg limit.

"We are eight tenths (of a second) off (the) pole (time) from last year with a car that is 25 percent down on downforce, with much harder tires, with 30 percent less fuel consumption, is heavier, with more power and more torque and greater straightline speed," Wolff told reporters on Saturday.

"So what are we talking about? We are in a brilliant technical revolution and we are talking the sport down," he added, so prepared for the questions that he arrived with some pre-written observations on a sheet of paper.

"Is it because we have an agenda? Somehow I don't get it," added the Austrian, whose drivers have won both races so far and qualified on pole in all three.

Nico Rosberg, on pole for Sunday's race, is the championship leader with team mate Lewis Hamilton 18 points behind after winning in Malaysia last weekend.

Wolff said rivals should recognize Mercedes had done a better job and focus on raising their game rather than trying to rewrite the rules.

"The rules are the rules, were implemented a long time ago and if you want to change them then you can do this for next year. But I don't see that happening," he said.

"Apparently some engine manufacturers, or teams, are saying 'we haven't managed to make the car efficient and fast with 100 kilograms (of fuel), so let's add 10 kg. Sorry, we didn't do our job in the way we should have done.'

"I find this whole discussion absurd."

Wolff was surprised that Ferrari had released a poll this week, based on 50,000 responses through their website, claiming that 83 percent of fans were 'disappointed' with the new-look sport and fuel-saving.

"The reason why we are in this sport is because we believe Formula One is a mega sport platform, it's the way we want to promote our brand - an efficient, high-tech brand," he said.

"Would we want to talk our sport down? It's like saying that our cars are not good."

Wolff said, despite the criticism, there had been no fuel saving during the race in Malaysia as far as his team was concerned.

"All the cars were flat out. We finished with some margin on fuel. There is no holding back. There is no fuel-saving mode, there is no taxi driving," he said.

"So we have to understand what the fans don't like. Is it the noise? then we have to address the noise. Is it because the races have become boring by a car or a team dominating? Maybe we've had that phenomenon in the last 20 years."

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Martyn Herman.)

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